Chinese and European observers have voiced high hopes that Beijing and Paris will boost trade and interconnectivity in Eurasia and promote shared growth as French President Emmanuel Macron is set to kick off his state visit to China on Monday.
Macron, the first foreign head of state to visit in 2018, arrives in China at a time that the two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have made remarkable progress in areas such as nuclear power, space and climate change.
During his first China trip as president, Macron will visit Beijing and Xi’an. He will meet with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang during the three-day trip.
Chris Rowley, an Asia expert and professor at the University of Oxford’s Kellogg College, said “the breadth and depth of the visit and areas of discussion are vast” during the leaders’ upcoming talks, expected to include areas such as nuclear power, space navigation and the digital economy.
“There is the view that this trip is an opportunity for bilateral trade deals and fits Macron’s ambitions to play a more global role on the international scene,” Rowley said.
Macron’s visit takes place against a background of European trade protectionism and Macron’s ideas for a more integrated Europe, Rowley said.
Zhao Huaipu, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, said, “Both Beijing and Paris have strong capability in drafting and fulfilling policies” as they seek a multipolar world, and “this enables their further policy coordination in the area of promoting global governance”.
“The two countries reinforced cooperation in areas such as climate change and anti-terrorism will inject the impetus for world peace, stability and the reform of global governance,” Zhao said.
Cui Hongjian, director of the Department for European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, noted that Macron has been promoting building a trade route connecting China, Europe and Russia, and this plan could synergize with the Belt and Road Initiative.
“France is working on upgrading its manufacturing industry, so there is a huge space for greater bilateral cooperation,” Cui said.
If the French leader objectively evaluates China’s role, he will find more chances for cooperation, Cui added.
Zhang Guobin, secretary-general of the Charhar Institute think tank and a former Chinese consul general in Strasbourg, France, said the two countries could explore new cooperation in areas like agricultural products, environment preservation and sustainable urban development.
Macron’s trip to Xi’an highlights the importance of cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Zhang told Guangming Daily.
He Wenping, a senior expert on Middle East studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the two countries’ cooperation with the third parties could see remarkable prospects in Africa, where they have worked effectively on infrastructure construction and medical care, particularly the fight against the Ebola virus.
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